Making a room cohesive

Following on from my first post about my parents living room.  I now give you – how to bring the room together!

I basically painted the majority of furniture with one colour – Annie Sloan Old Ochre chalk paint.  Once the end cabinet was done it was obvious that to bring the room cohesivley together what it needed was more painting!  Cue MASSIVE groan.  That’s where the snowball began.

Thank GOODNESS the paint is so easy to go on.  When doing the larger pieces of  dark wood furniture I did end up using an undercoat first.  As for the end cabinet, I had to do three coats of paint and then one coat of varnish.  So that was a LOT of painting, my poor aching arm. (SO worth it though)  As long as the surface is clean and dry before you start, you are good to go.  And when I say a layer of undercoat it isn’t like a very nicely perfectly painted piece.  You are literally just using it to take the harm out of the dark wood so that it doesn’t show up through the paint.  A VERY rough coat indeed.  It’s still the same number of coats but you get to save a little on being so precise with the chalk paint.

So in the Living Room I painted:

The marble fireplace and wooden surround (painting marble who knew!  LOVED it)

A large mirror

2 tables

2 stools

A cabinet

2 light fixtures (who knew – my Dad was the one who wanted those and as he wasn’t objecting to the rest of it so I got right to it!)

and 4 wicker baskets

Here is a little sample of what I was working with.  Mostly dark wood and a fair amount of varnish.

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So the majority I covered in Old Ochre. The fireplace surround and the mirror were both done in Louis Blue. A really lovely blue, a lot paler than the other Annie Sloan blues that I have put in my house.  There is a little of it in the carpet so it looks GREAT!  A really beautiful pop of colour I think.  The entire room was lifted.  You now walk in and take a big sigh and chillax into one of the sofas to watch the Bake Off, or Countryfile whichever is your fancy 🙂

Unfortunately, as it was not my intention to paint the whole bl**dy room, I don’t have a great before shot.  BUT this is the after shot.  It looks GREAT though doesn’t it!  (Note my daughter was in the middle of organising a sports club hence all the cuddly toys at the back)

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I do have a before and after of the fireplace.  Now THAT looks great.  (Those tables are now Old Ochre also)

Before and After Fireplace

Next Stop…. The Porch, which includes, a hat stand, a rocking chair, another chair, a wee table (with a little Calvin & Hobbes decoupage) and a bookshelf.  Oh and the DOOR!  SO pleased my Mother and Father let me paint their door.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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My Mams Living Room Cabinet

My parents have had this dark wooden cabinet ever since I can remember. I think it went in at some stage of the mid 80s. But I’m not sure.  Mam has been saying how much she would like to change it.

Mams dark cabinet

It definitely could do with a little TLC.

Before I go any further, a foreword is required.

I went home to Ireland for the month of August (which was heavenly) and let me tell you I had no intention of doing anything other than hanging out with my parents and daughter and catching up with as many friends that were around. Somehow I ended up painting 14 pieces of furniture…  I still caught up with some friends and got to hang out with my parents and daughter a lot.  But talk about the snowball effect! The cabinet was the start of the whole thing.

So I myself have painted almost every piece of furniture in my house with annie sloan chalk paint. I LOVE the stuff.  It will go on anything and look beautiful!  Although I have previously tried it on shiny leather and it wasn’t so good.  I put it down to inexperience.  I digress…

I thought it time to introduce my mother to the delights of chalk paint.  After discussing it we decided on a mixture of old white and henrietta.  I Googled Annie Sloan Cork.  As this paint is only available in the smaller retail outlets.  Buy from the smaller suppliers when you can peeps!

I was hoping there was a local stockist and ta daaaa! I found ‘The Paint Pot’ (http://thepaintpot.ie/) on St. Patricks Quay in Cork City.  I headed on up there and spoke to Jackie who THANKFULLY talked me out of that and INTO Old Ochre. I hadn’t used it before.  And boy am I glad I changed the plan.  So is my mother! The Henrietta would have been too much pink for that room.

The cabinet was an absolute MONSTER to paint.  All those different compartments and corners.  And to add insult to injury my little roller broke half way through.  But I ploughed on and boy am I happy that I did. Dogged determination. I get that from my Dad I think.

Ta Daaaaaa!!!!

Mams lving room cabinet

That is where the snowball started. The end cabinet was done and the TV cabinet started shouting at us. I think that is 40 years old and also in dire need of a lick if paint.  So that went old ochre. Jackie also had these beautiful handles which with the help of my wonderful father we also changed. The TV cabinet needed a couple of new holes made and a few holes needed to be filled. The end result is a beautiful cohesive unit that actually matches. It makes the room feel lighter and more pleasant to sit in and watch The Great British Bake Off.  WHAT a difference. It took me the guts of two days. 3 coats plus a coat of varnish.  I would normally use wax but thankfully Jackie introduced me to varnish which gives a great finish and is a LOT quicker and easier to apply.

Then the fireplace started shouting at us, a combination of DARK wood and marble.  BUT I’ll leave that to another post…  I needed a rest in my Mothers amazing garden

butterfly

and a giggle with Calvin and Hobbes before I did any more painting.

Calvin why people don't like cats

Personal jewellery as a special wedding gift

I recently went to a wedding of a good friend of mine.  We had lived together in a flat in Sydney, Australia together with 3 other girls about 10 years ago now.  Doesn’t time fly!  It was a two bed flat just back from Bondi Beach. Five Irish girls having the time of our lives. We spent Christmas 2004 together. (A total of 37 people at a restaurant at the beach on Christmas day, complete chaos and carnage) good times. We met our partners at various stages of our travels and we were there for each other when it was tough.

I didn’t know what to get Rachael and Peter for a wedding present.  My husband suggested I make them jewellery.  It seemed obvious as that’s what I do.  But I hadn’t really thought of jewellery as a wedding present.  Up until now I have (rather traditionally) thought that the only jewellery involved in a wedding is bought before the day to match the Bride and Grooms outfits and as gifts for Groomsmen and Bridesmaids.

I thought about it for a while and figured if I could think of a way to make matching jewellery but not making it naff that would be a great personal gift.

I have been really into customising tools recently so I thought I could use the same texture but a different design for his and hers.

I used a customised hammer to texture the jewellery. Same same but different.
I used a customised hammer to texture the jewellery. Same same but different.

I made Peter personalised cufflinks with R&P stamped.

Silver cufflinks for Peter

And I made Rachael a pair of earrings and a necklace using the same hammer and a design that I really love.

Silver earrings and necklace

I thought it important that they both come from the same sheet of metal.  Maybe that’s me being sentimental. But I like the idea of jewellery that was once one piece of metal becoming separate pieces for people who want jewellery to link them.  I did something similar a few years ago for a friend.  She wanted to give her sister a ring for her 18th birthday.  She wanted the same ring for herself. I made them out of the same sheet of metal so that no matter how far apart they are they still have the rings that were once one piece together.

Same Silver sheet

The wedding was held at Castle Leslie in Co. Monaghan. What a venue!

ME at castle leslie

Lord Leslie is a cousin of Sir Winston Churchill and Churchills Christening gown is actually on display in the castle. A wonderful member of staff took the time to show me the paintings and connections and then pointed me in the direction of the gown.  I had been taking photos all over the place so it was fairly obvious I was interested. I LOVE history and seeing pieces of history and being in those rooms is an amazing experience.

Sir Winston Churchills Christening Gown
Winston Churchills Christening Gown

I had an amazing day at the wedding and I was really pleased that I had taken the time to make a personal gift for the bride and groom.

Combination of all Combo

They had a beautiful day and we rocked the dance floor. What a day.  Weddings are a great reminder to us all of the love in the world.  And my only chance to dance the night away these days 😉.

Dance the night away

If you are interested in buying that special couple something they will treasure this set is available here:  https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/244526256/silver-earrings-necklace-and-cufflinks

Or I can customise something just for you.

Thank you for reading

Improving product photography

I have been working on improving the photos for my etsy shop. I started out using black stones to place my jewellery on.  My very first pictures were taken on Brighton beach.  I liked the arty shots of the rings against the rocks.  They were light coloured rocks and i thought black stones might be better.

Silver is supposed to look best on a black background. However, I found they just got lost in the rocks.

I moved on to using the rocks as props and a mirror as a reflective surface.

A new set of necklace and earrings made using a customized hammer
A new set of necklace and earrings made using a customized hammer

Now I am moving on to a white background with an orchid as an occasional prop.

Popcorn earrings
Popcorn earrings

I like the orchid, it was a present from some lovely friends for my birthday.  I think they are showing the jewellery off in a much better light (pardon the pun).  What do you think?

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The how to of cufflinks

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Personalised cufflinks was one of the first items of jewellery that a friend asked me to make for her husband.

Here are the steps involved in making these cufflinks.

First you cut out your desired shape.

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Then you file down the edges and corners to make sure you don’t get any sharp edges.

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Next comes the personalisation, when stamping always place on an anvil.  If you stamp on wood or anything else you won’t get a great impression. You need one STRONG hit of the hammer. Practice elsewhere in case the letter / number is the wrong way round.  (I learned this the hard way)

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Next step is soldering!  Some tips to solder.

  1. Set up is key, once you are in the middle of soldering you don’t want to be searching around for tweezers or solder etc.
  2. A clean join will mean a solid join
  3. Keep breathing ☺

20150715_211029IMG_20150716_000741Once the soldering is done you need to pickle each piece to clean it up.

And next is riveting. I rivet my own cufflinks as I don’t risk melting the little spring inside the cufflink.

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Once the cufflinks are one piece it is time to oxidise the top to show up the lovely stamping done earlier.  This is done with liver of sulphur which stinks like Rotorua! This needs to be done outside, unless you don’t mind the smell of rotten eggs of course….

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Then brush back and polish! And there you have it.  Some awesome personalised cufflinks.

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Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed it.

Chunky Silver Rings

I LOVE rings. All kinds of rings. Big rings, small rings, delicate rings and knuckle dusters. I go through different phases with my jewellery wearing and making. At the moment it’s all about the chunky rings.  I want to be adorned with lovely big chunky rings.

I made a few originally for my husband and a replacement wedding ring for my brother.  I liked them so much I decided to add them to my own collection. And now they are finally available in my etsy shop! http://www.fancypantsjewelery.etsy.com

I also have been trying to improve my product photography. I recently got a new phone with a GREAT camera. And decided to use an orchid that my lovely friends Kate and Tim gave me for my birthday last month.

So here is the result of my new phone and chunky ring combo.

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New jewellery

Hello Again 🙂

I have been very busy over the last couple of months.  Mainly with my first craft fair!  It was a really great experience and I am looking forward to my next one in July.  First Saturday of the month at Lewes Craft market.

In the meantime I have been working on various new designs.  Working in wax, working with new tools and experimenting with new metals and finishes.

These are a few of the little bubble pieces that I have just received back from casting.  I am going to make some earrings, tops of rings, tie pins and maybe a necklace or two.  I am also planning on experimenting with gold plating them.  Yay!

New silver casting pieces

And this is the entire lot.  So I have new rings in there.  And more little blobby, bubbles (I have no idea how to name them) and a triquetra which started out as a commission.  I spent just over three months working on that and really grew to love it.  So I think some earrings and a necklace will be an awesome addition to my collection.

New silver casting pieces necklaces earrings tie pins

Watch this space for the finished pieces!

Thank you for reading 🙂